Sussex Centre for Human Rights Research

Past events and activities

The Sussex Centre for Human Rights Research hosts and participates in a range of events, including seminars, conferences, roundtable discussions and doctoral debates.

Find out more about our past events and activities below.

Spring 2017 Rights Research Series

The Sussex Centre for Human Rights Research Seminar Series includes a range of events, including external speakers, work in progress seminars, brainstorming sessions, and doctoral debates.

14 February 2017, Human Rights Seminar w/ Ciarán Suter

Tuesday 14 February, 1-4 pm, Freeman G16 

With Ciarán Suter of the human rights ngo Al-Marsad - Arab Human Rights Centre in the Golan Heights.

Ciarán gave a presentation on the human rights situation in the Golan Heights, a part of Syria under Israeli occupation, with an emphasis on how Al-Marsad uses international (human rights) law as the basis for its advocacy before international bodies such as the EU and the UN.

15 February 2017, Human Rights Seminar w/ Bal Sokhi-Bulley

Wednesday 15 February, 3-4 pm, Freeman F40

Bal Sokhi-Bulley - Book Project - 'Governing (Through) Rights’

22 February 2017, Human Rights Doctoral WiP Seminar w/ Benjamin Thorne and Gizem Guney

Wednesday 22 February, 1-2 pm, Freeman Moot Room

Benjamin Thorne, ‘Legal witnessing and mass human rights violations: remembering atrocities’

Gizem Guney, ‘The Istanbul Convention: To what extent does it constitute a feminist instrument in the struggle with domestic violence against women?’

8 March 2017, Human Rights Doctoral WiP Seminar w/ Kimberley Brayson

Wednesday 8 March, 1-2pm, Freeman F40

Kimberley Brayson, ‘Of Bodies and Burkinis: Institutional Islamaphobia and Islamic Dress’

22 March 2017, Human Rights Seminar w/ Merris Amos

Wednesday 22 March, 5-7pm, Freeman Moot Room

Merris Amos (QMUL), ‘The Human Rights Implications of Brexit’

5 April 2017, Human Rights Seminar w/ Hugh Tomlinson QC

Wednesday 5 April, 1-2:30pm, Ashdown House 101

Hugh Tomlinson QC (Matrix Chambers), 'Free Speech and Protecting Privacy: Balancing Two Human Rights’

3 May 2017, Doctoral Human Rights Debate

Wednesday 3 May, 5-7pm, Freeman F40

Topic: How does the rise of conservative populism affect women's rights?

11 May 2017, Human Rights Conference

Thursday 11 May until Friday 12 May, Fulton 

'The Occupation at 50: Pasts, Presents, Futures'

Autumn 2016 Rights Research Series

12 May 2016, Human Rights Roundtable: Academic Freedom, International Law, Prevent, and 'Balance'

Thursday 12 May, 9.30-15.00, The Meeting House, University of Sussex

Sussex Centre for Human Rights Roundtable: Academic Freedom, International Law, Prevent, and 'Balance'

The purpose of this roundtable was to facilitate discussion on various threads of controversy and contest within higher education falling under the freedom of expression label. The intention was to promote some critical reflection and discussion as to what this labelling tells us about the role of the university and of scholarship in light of contemporary politics.

The University of Southampton's cancellation of a conference on Israel and International Law was the prompt for this event, but only in so far as it coincided with the government's Prevent legislation and the ongoing furore in popular discourse about safe spaces, trigger warnings, and no-platforming.

Also in the background are student campaigns such as Rhodes Must Fall, and broader political campaigns such as the BDS movement, which have prompted critique and condemnation to the effect that these activists, along with their logic and speech, fall outside the scope of academic freedom of expression given their lack of balance, their uncivil nature, and their tendency to divisiveness.

If the notion of 'safe spaces' allow media commentators an opportunity for cheap laughs at the expense of 'fragile' students, our political debate is showing increasing signs of an overt ethnic and racial turn, whether Islamophobic or anti-semitic, or in the scope and nature of anti-refugee discourse.

In seeking to untangle the various issues, and in framing debates on the notion of freedom of speech in terms of university governance, of broader democracy, as well as culture, philosophy, and technology, the roundtable provided an invigorating, provocative, and hugely rewarding discussion amongst panellists and audience.

First session: Managerialism 09.45 -11.00

Dr Michael Kearney, Sussex Law School (welcome)

Oren Ben Dor, Professor of Law and Philosophy at the University of Southampton, discussed the cancellation (postponement) of the conference he had been helping organise on Israel and International Law, and spoke about the uniqueness of the academic space, as well as the nature of human rights law’s ’logic of weighing’ and proportionality, questioning the nature of the freedom to philosophise as a characteristic of the university.

Matt Waddup of the University and College Union reflected, in a personal capacity, on the retreat of the public intellectual, the various de facto regulatory functions served by concepts such as the REF and TEF, the impact of technology and social media on the life and work of academics, as well as the ideal of a university as place where students can be challenged rather than infantalised.

Chair: Dr Elizabeth Craig , Sussex Law School

Second Session: Extremism? 11.15-12.45

Eric Heinze, Professor of Law and Humanities, Queen Mary University London, presented on the distinction between human rights and democracy as elements of the state, and his theory of the ‘citizen prerogative of non-viewpoint punitive expression within public discourse’, with Dr Amir Paz-Fuchs of Sussex Law School as chair.

Third Session: Boycott & Civility 13.30-15.00

Professor Geoffrey Alderman of Buckingham University discussed the nature and extant of the current threat to academic freedom in the UK, giving an historical overview of the nature of academic speech and disagreements, with a focus on the Prevent Programme and the unwillingness of institutions such as UUK to contest its scope and content. Dr Arianne Shahvisi of Brighton and Sussex Medical School spoke on the contemporary notion of ‘civility’ in the academic and public sphere, on the authority and responsibility of academics, and the imperative of diversifying knowledge.

Chair: Dr Tom Frost, Sussex Law School

The roundtable was in large part a successful and enjoyable endeavour because of the interaction and debate between and amongst all attendees, both those presenting and those in the audience, and we would like to extend our sincere thanks to all who participated.

12 October 2016, Research Meeting w/ David McGrogan

Wednesday 12 October, 1-2pm, Freeman G-16

Dr David McGrogan, our inaugural visiting research fellow in human rights law, introduced his research about the shift to human rights audits: epistemological and political concerns. 

26 October 2016, Human Rights Research Meeting w/ Stephanie Berry

Wednesday 26 October, 1-2pm, Freeman G-16

Stephanie Berry spoke on the topic of balancing human rights protection with 'living together': interculturalism as assimilation, the subject of a conference paper and a forthcoming article.

9 November 2016, Human Rights Seminar w/ Simona Granata-Menghini

Wednesday 9 November, 1-2pm, Freeman G-16

Simona Granata-Menghini, Deputy Secretary of the Council of Europe's Venice Commission, discussed the Commission's opinion on the compatibility with CoE standards of proposed revisions to the French Constitution aimed at incorporating rules on a state of emergeny and on the deprivation of nationality. A copy of the opinion can be found here.

23 November 2016, Research Meeting w/ David McGrogan

Wednesday 23 November, 1-2pm, Freeman G-22

David McGrogan, the Centre's Visting Research Fellow in Human Rights Law, gave a presentation on the research work he had undertaken during his fellowship period, discussing human rights as a technology of government.

7 December 2016, Doctoral Human Rights Debate 

Wednesday 7 December, 6-7:30pm, Moot Room

Our doctoral human rights debate, followed by drinks, was on the subject of the Current Refugee Crisis.

Spring 2016 Rights Research Series

3 February 2016, Networking and Brainstorming Meeting

Wednesday 3 February, 3-5pm, Freeman Centre G31

Colleagues were invited to consider and discuss strategies and planning for the Centre, and identify opportunities for collaborative work.

The meeting focused on the planned international and interdisciplinary conference, Challenging Human Rights Disenchantment 50 Years On, scheduled for 26-27 January 2017.

9 February 2016, Human Rights Research Meeting w/ Misozi Lwatula

Tuesday 9 February, 12-1.30pm, Freeman G06

Misozi Lwatula presented on an aspect of her postgraduate research concerning gender-based violence in Zambia, Polygamy, Bride Price, FGM: An African Women’s Perspective. Isilay Taban gave a presentation entitled Not just refugees: Kurdish Syrian refugees as beneficiaries of minority rights.

24 February 2016, Human Rights Research Meeting w/ Alex Conte

Wednesday 24 February, 1-2pm, Freeman Centre F22

Alex Conte spoke about his work on detention in non-international armed conflicts, the subject of a draft article and also a matter before the UK Supreme Court concerning the detention by British forces of persons in Afghanistan and Iraq.

13 April 2016, Human Rights Research Meeting w/ Michael Kearney

Wednesday 13 April, 1-2pm, Freeman Centre G31

Michael Kearney presented on the subject of Syria and the unresolved problems of the Spanish Civil War, undertaking a review of the fundamentals of international humanitarian law. He considered how the academic and political responses to the Spanish Civil War, though highly influential on interpretations of ICTY jurisprudence, remain central to the failed coherent application of IHL in Syria.

27 April 2016, Doctoral Human Rights Debate

Wednesday 27 April, 6-7.30pm

The second of our doctoral human rights debates, followed by drinks, focused on the execution on 12 April of Kennth Fults in Georgia. It was preceded by an extract from the early cut of a film, 'The Penalty', starting with a 5 minute introduction by one of the film directors, Will Francome.

Autumn 2015 Rights Research Series

14 October 2015, Human Rights Research Meeting w/ Aisling O'Sullivan and Alex Conte

Wednesday 14 October, 12-1pm, Freeman G06

Aisling O’Sullivan spoke about her work in progress on the topic of The politics of human rights litigation: the case of Ireland v. United Kingdom.

Alex Conte spoke about his plans for a funding proposal to The Leverhulme Trust around his research work on detention in armed conflict.

28 October 2015, Human Rights Research Meeting w/ Elizabeth Craig, Alex Conte and Amir Paz-Fuchs

Wednesday 28 October, 2-3:30pm, Fulton 101

Elizabeth Craig and Alex Conte updated colleagues and lead a brief discussion on ideas and plans for the Centre’s 2016 international conference.

Amir Paz-Fuchs spoke about his draft article in which he asked whether and how slavery exists today.

11 November 2015, Human Rights Seminar w/ Professor Marie-Bénédicte Dembour 

Wednesday 11 November, 1-2pm, Freeman G22

Professor Marie-Bénédicte Dembour (University of Brighton, formerly Sussex Law School), delivered a presentation of great topicality, When humans become migrants. This will be based on her book focusing on the approach of the European Court of Human Rights and its Inter-American counterpart to claims lodged by migrants. Professor Dembour's blog, When Humans Become Migrantsexplores some of the key ideas covered in her book.

25 November 2015, Human Rights Research Meeting w/ Verona Ní Drisceoil and Po-Han Lee

Wednesday 25 November, 1-2:30pm, Freeman G22

Verona Ní Drisceoil spoke about her work on Law, Language and Identity: the right to speak Irish in Northern Ireland ahead of the presentation she gave at a language, culture and laws conference in Paris in December.

Po-Han Lee spoke about heterosexism as an invisible killer of sexual minorities: a health and human rights perspective. He will be drawing from his PhD research, testing his ideas surrounding health inequities in sexual minorities and contested positions in international documentation.

9 December 2015, Doctoral Human Rights Debate

Wednesday 9 December, 6-7.30pm, Freeman G06

The first of our doctoral human rights debates, followed by drinks, discussed the current refugee crisis.

Debate questions were:

1) Has the non-refoulmenet principle been rendered redundant by recent developments, and what are the human rights implications of this?

2) Have states’ human rights obligations become disassociated from the humanitarian catastrophe of refugees dying at sea?

Related events and activities

The Sussex Centre for Human Rights Research builds on the earlier activities and events of the human rights stream within the former Centre for Responsibilities, Rights and the Law (CRRL). Find out more about a selection of these events below:

16 June 2015, Who's Afraid of the Human Rights Act?

Tuesday 16 June 2015, 7.30pm, Brightom Dome Studio Theatre

Hailed as an Act to ‘bring rights home’, the UK Human Rights Act was passed in 1998 with cross-party support. It has come under attack from successive governments and the media, blamed for a wide variety of ills: from exploitation by convicted criminals to unbalancing the constitution.

This Sussex Salon event explored why some critics deem it ‘insufficiently British’, asked what a proposed Conservative British Bill of Rights would look like, and considered what it would mean to lose the Human Rights Act all together.

Panel included:

  • Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky
  • Professor John Dearlove
  • Dr Charlotte Skeet
  • Paul Bowen QC
29 October 2014, Exploring Language Rights

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Speakers: Dr Verona Ní Drisceoil (Lecturer in Law, University of Sussex) ‘Exploring the Nature of Language as a Right’ and Prof Rob Dunbar (Chair of Celtic Languages, Literature, History and Antiquities, Department of Celtic & Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh) ‘Language Rights and Language Maintenance?’

The first paper was prompted by the observation that notwithstanding increasing demands being made for language rights and language legislation as a means of providing support and giving legal status to minority languages, when one considers the effective fulfilment of language rights and language legislation, considerable gaps continue to appear.  The paper argued for the need to reconsider the complex nature of language as the object of a right or legislative provision and by doing so to challenge the role, and limits, of law in the protection and promotion of minority languages.

The second paper aimed to explore the use of language rights regimes as an instrument for the maintenance of a minority languages, making particular reference to the Celtic languages.  The first part of the presentation concentrated to a significant extent on the Canadian model (or, more correctly the Canadian models). It consider the use of a language rights regime (rather than other forms of legal regulation of language use) as an instrument for the maintenance of minority languages, making particular reference to the Celtic languages.  In particular, the aim was to consider the extent to which language rights are, in fact, an effective tool, and some of the problems that are either inherent in or attendant upon the use of a rights regime for this purpose.

10 October 2014, Norwegian Ombudsmen Visit

A team from the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombudsman in Norway visited Sussex for a day-long workshop organised by Dr Mark Walters on Prejudice and Discrimination: Causes and Responses. Elizabeth Craig presented a paper on 'Human Rights Protection in the UK and the Equality Act 2010 and Kimberley Brayson presented a paper on 'Meanings of Islamic Dress in Europe: A Human Rights Response.' There followed a very fruitful discussion about experiences and challenges in addressing discrimination and prejudice in both jurisdictions.

4-6 September 2014, Critical Legal Conference Stream, Identity Politics and Human Rights

The human rights group ran a stream focusing on identity politics and human rights within the Critical Legal Conference hosted by Sussex in Sept 2014. 

Speakers:

MacNamara, Norin ‘The Relation between Convergent Temporalities and Identity Politics’

Mirza, Qudsia ‘Gender Equality and Justice in Islamic Law: Methodological Potential and Problems’

Brayson, Kim ‘Revisiting Sahin v Turkey: Secularism, Public Order and Neo-Liberalism’

Evans, Matthew ‘Trade Unions as Human Rights Organisations’

Lobo, Bárbara ‘Affirmative Action in Higher Education in Brazil as Tool in Promoting Equality and Combating Racial Discrimination’

Ibarra Rojas, Lucero ‘Identity in Cultural Policy and the Marketing of the Pluricultural State: México’s Cultural Policy in the Context of Globalization and the Obscured Political Questions’

Craig, Elizabeth ‘What next for the Right to Self-Identify in Post-Conflict Societies?’

3 September 2014, Citzenship, Minority Rights and Justice

This was an event organised in conjunction with SEI and the New Europeans.  The session considered the scope of minority protection and minority rights both within and outside the EU and the place of minority rights within current integration debates. 

Speakers:

Dr Tawhida Ahmed, City University, Minority Rights within the EU

Dr Stephanie Berry, Sussex, Minority Rights within the European Court of Human Rights: A Critique of SAS v France

Dr Federica Prina, European Centre for Minority Issues, The Future for Crimean Tatars and Other Minority Groups in the Region

Dr Charlotte Skeet, Sussex, Restrictions on Religious Attire and Free Movement Rights

Dr  Alexandra Xanthaki, Brunel, European Integration Debates and Minority Cultural Rights

29-30 May 2014, Citizens Coping with Crisis: Rights, Participation, Action

This workshop was organised by Charlotte Skeet in conjunction with José García‐Añón (University of Valencia) and Marina Calloni (University of Milan).

Professor Sue Millns and Dr Charlotte Skeet presented a paper on gender equality in crisis, and Dr Elizabeth Craig presented a paper on cultural rights in crisis.

12 March 2014, The Rights of Workers and the Workers of Rights: The International Campaign against Coca-Cola

Speaker: Dr Lara Montesinos Coleman, Lecturer in International Security, Department of International Relations, University of Sussex

12 February 2014, Migrants, Minorities and Human Rights

Wednesday 12 Feb 2014

Speakers: Tom Southerden (Law Phd), Nick Beard (Law PhD) and Dr Stephanie Berry (Law faculty)

This session aimed to generate discussion on obstacles to the realisation of migrants’ and minority rights at both the national and European levels. Tom Southerden’s contribution considered some of the current obstacles to the use of strategic litigation as a campaigning tool for pro-immigrant policies in the UK; Nick Beard’s contribution focused on the EU legal framework and the right to asylum on the basis of sexual violence and Stephanie Berry’s paper examined the widening of the State’s margin of appreciation in recent European Court of Human Rights cases on freedom of religion.